Working it out Four ways to secure your job future
Want to future proof your job? Career coach John Fitzgerald has four aces up his sleeves, writes
From short-term contracts to the automation of certain roles to continually changing technology, the way we work has changed utterly.
While our parents’ generation went to college, got a job and in many cases stayed with the same company until retirement, the chaotic, ever-evolving nature of contemporary business presents major challenges and demands that we be dynamic in our career approach.
Yet enjoying a positive working environment, and feeling content and fulfilled in what you do, is vital not only for our cash-flow, but for our welfare and self-esteem, too. And future-proofing yourself against the constantly changing landscape could be the key to career success, according to top career consultant John Fitzgerald of Harmonics.
He’s identified four “aces” that could transform how we approach our working lives — and what we can do to make our working hours more rewarding.
Awareness Of Ourselves
We’re so busy in day-to-day jobs, says John, that we never take stock of what our skills and values are, or how
best to utilise them. In the past, we’d only need to reflect on these for a job interview, but that has changed.
“It’s absolutely important to plan ahead and it’s not something that people do because the majority of people at work are very busy doing more with less, and busyness is the new drug in the world of work,” he explains.
“We get our dopamine hit from working hard, ticking off our to-do list. That gives us a sense of achievement, a sense of re-added value, but by being so busy, it doesn’t give us the space to step back, to rethink, to relearn, to refresh for the future. That is something that we’re not good at as adults in the workplace.” He recommends taking steps to become more aware of what you have to offer. “A lot of people do their job without thinking of the skills that they use. It’s really about understanding the skills that you bring. If I were to ask you for your top 10 skills, would everybody know that? When have you been at your best, and when are you in flow?
“Are you aware of your strengths, your values, what’s important to you? They’re the key indicators which will guide you as a compass for your future. If we know ourselves better, we can start making proactive decisions about where we want to go.”
Awareness Of Our Environment
The working world has changed so much that it’s vital to know where developments are taking place — both within and beyond our own industries, says John.
“Career progression was so predictable in the past. You worked for your organisation and it stayed around for a long time. Now we’re seeing with Fortune 500 companies that something like 15 years is their life expectancy. The half life of a skill now is five years. If we learned a skill 10 years ago, it’s more than likely obsolete now.” He suggests taking at least 30 minutes “metime” each day to focus on our careers, aspirations and skills values. “You can take inventories online to examine your skills, there are many resources there, you can learn more about yourself and what motivates you.” He says that thinking beyond your profession can open up a world of possibilities. “Have conversations with people outside of your industry. I think people get caught up in a spiral of where they work and what they do. We need to remain curious about the world of work and not just the environment that we work in.
“I think the more curious we are about asking questions, we can start to gather themes about what’s happening across all industry sectors. It’s not rocket science — it’s literally the ‘heads down’ versus ‘heads up’ approach.”
It’s human nature to have ingrained habits, especially in our working lives, but a willingness to be adaptable can be a great asset in the modernday workplace. John cites Charles Duhigg’s book The Power of Habit in explaining that for a habit to change, we must believe change is possible.
“They say only a child with a wet nappy welcomes change!” laughs John. But we need to become more adaptable. We all have habits and they’re habits that we’re wedded to.
We need to see the opportunity in change rather than see yourself as a victim of change.
“It’s about belief, but also being aware of limiting belief. What will hold me back? It’s always a challenge to recognise what are the limiting beliefs that are holding you back.”
The ability to anticipate the future and its consequences is one of the great skills of successful people at work, says John. Being proactive about potential changes enables you to be impacted by it in a less negative way.
It’s a key skill in future-proofing, as you’re aware of your environment and planning well ahead of time.
To hone this skill, he suggests thinking like a competitive sportsperson, for who anticipating future moves is second nature. “They have a coach, they have a mentor. They train their minds. They learn to block out everything else. That’s what great sportspeople do, they’re in the right position for the ball at the right time.
“It’s about taking more risks with ourselves, and maybe failing sometimes. But going out there and committing yourself to the next move. Sometimes you won’t get it right, but the more you practice that, the better the results are going to be.”